The Vale of Glamorgan Council – currently pressing ahead with Phase One of its plans to convert all the street lamps in residential areas of Penarth to LED (Light Emitting Diode) lighting – has hit a major snag in the Penarth Conservation Area.
In most locations the new LED lights are being installed in existing steel or concrete lamp standards.
The new LED lights are so cheap to run they will enable the council to leave lighting in residential areas on all night – rather than it be turned-down or turned-off under the present “part night lighting” arrangements.
However, in the architecturally sensitive Penarth Conservation Area, the LED lamps can’t be easily installed in many of the traditional black-painted cast-iron lighting standards – some of which date back to the times when gas-lamps illuminated the flagstoned pavements of the town.
The Vale Council is currently investigating what options it has for converting the existing Victorian and Edwardian lamp-standards to LED lighting in the Penarth Conservation Area and whether upgrading the old traditional lamps will achieve the necessary energy savings .
The older cast-iron lamp standards in Penarth are therefore being left out of “Phase One” of the LED conversion programme – but will be included in Phase Two.
There are around 1,000 non-standard cast-iron or ornamental light fittings in the Vale for which replacement parts are hard – or impossible – to come by.
When electricity came to Penarth and replaced gas-lighting the original old cast iron lamp standards were retained in the Conservation area – but the original glass lamp- housings were removed and clumsily replaced with a variety of fittings – many the “swan-neck” type with the ugly exposed timer box and orange sodium bulb.
Some conservationists say that the switch to LED now provides the Vale Council with a golden opportunity to re-install traditional-style lamphouses – like that in St Augustine’s Church – on ALL the Victorian and Edwardian cast-iron standards.
The Vale council says however that when it can’t get hold of replacement parts for the old lamp standards in the Conservation Area, it will replace them with modern brushed steel type standards fitted with modern LED lamps.
A council source says a modern lamp standard is now considered to be a better option in a Conservation Area than installing a new reproduction “Victorian-type” light. Conservation officers look down their noses at reproductions – labelling them as a “pastiche” of the original – genuine – items .
A Vale council spokesperson said that the council will try to preserve and convert old cast-iron lamp standards to LED where it can, but if it can’t – then a new modern lamp standard will have to be installed to replace it.
It’s not known whether Penarth Civic Society has yet been consulted about this policy which could result in a variable mix of old and modern lamp standards on the same street – similar to the situation already obtaining in Bridgeman Road (see top picture) .
There are about 16,000 street-lighting units across the Vale of Glamorgan – of which about 33% have already been converted to LED. The current work is concentrating on converting all residential street-lighting to LED by the end of the year .